The Hotchkiss High School football team recovered from a crazy first quarter to beat visiting Coal Ridge 28-14 last Friday night, improving to 2-0 under first year head coach Curtis Hintz.
"I'm just proud of our boys. They were physical and they were always hustling, and that's something you want to see from your kids on Friday nights," Hintz said.
Playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season, Hotchkiss ran an intricate new offense and played physical defense for four quarters against the competitive Titans.
Neither squad had time to catch a breath as the teams put up 21 points in the first quarter.
Running an up-tempo offense from the pistol formation, Bulldogs senior quarterback Colton Deluzio connected with Colton Peebles on a 10-yard touchdown pass and then threw to Braxton Trujillo for a 6-yard strike to put Hotchkiss quickly ahead 14-0.
Coal Ridge turned to its senior quarterback, Jackson Sargent, who threw a 72-yard bomb to Raul Ramirez to end the first session with the Bulldogs in front 14-7.
"That one big play, if we could have eliminated that one big play," Hintz said. "We did create a couple of turnovers, that was huge. Defense I thought played real well and put us in a position where I thought we could score on offense."
The teams got bogged down in the second quarter as both offenses were hounded by false starts. The Titans also ran the pistol formation, which features multiple players in motion and quick changes by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage.
Bulldogs senior Wade Katzdorn took it to the house for Hotchkiss on a 2-yard touchdown burst that sent the home team to halftime with a 21-7 advantage.
"We're getting a hold of it," Hintz said when asked how the players are adjusting to the new offense. "There are certain things that we obviously have to get better at. Felt that we ran the ball pretty well, and at times we completed a couple of passes when we needed to."
Hotchkiss settled in for the second half and beat the Titans on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Seniors Jared Cantrell and Joe Nault are the leaders of a veteran group of big Bulldog linemen that took over in the second half against Coal Ridge.
"Jared Cantrell on defensive side of the ball was really hustling, he's coming on for us," Hintz said. "Joe Nault and Nolan Egging are two-way players that both give us everything they have, and Connor Collins stepped up for us as well as Parker Katzdorn and Darrin Young.
"I thought all of our big guys up front played really well," Hintz said. "It's a good unit that's continuing to improve, and good things are coming from those guys up front."
Devan Curtis scored the Bulldogs final touchdown late in the third quarter on a 10-yard run. The Titans put their last score on the board late in the fourth quarter.
"Credit to Coal Ridge, they adjusted to a couple things that we did and showed some things tonight that we didn't see on film," Hintz said. "That's a credit to their staff and their kids preparing hard for this game."
The teams combined for five turnovers in the contest and eight penalties, although only two of those infractions were by Hotchkiss.
Hintz was pleased to be 2-0 but doesn't want the Bulldogs to think too far ahead.
"You want to get a little bit of momentum going into conference, because our conference is just so good," Hintz said. "There are some really tough teams. So it's one week at a time. Enjoy this one and then move on to Center."